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NEWS RELEASE

Embargoed for release: For more information, contact:
Monday, December 18, 2000 Farouk Abdallah or Gene Russianoff at (212) 349-6460

FEWER BROKEN PHONES AT 25 TOP SUBWAY STATIONS, SURVEY FINDS STILL, NEARLY ONE IN FIVE SUBWAY PHONES DON'T WORK

BEST STATIONS: MAIN STREET/FLUSHING AND 72ND STREET/BROADWAY; WORST: 86TH AND LEXINGTON AVENUE

There are fewer broken pay phones at the city's biggest subway stations than a year ago, according to a survey of 658 phones at the 25 top stations by the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign.

The campaign found 18% of phones were not working in a survey of major subway stations conducted in October and November 2000, compared to 25% in a survey conducted in August 1999.

The survey also found that the best chance of finding a working phone was at the Main Street/Flushing station on the 7 line and 72nd Street/Broadway station on the1, 2 and 3 lines. Both had 100% of their phones working when surveyed.
   
72 St/Broadway 100%
Main St Flushing 100%
Jamaica Center 95%
68 St/Lexington 94%
34 St/8 Ave Penn Station 93%
B'way/Nassau/Fulton St 89%
Brooklyn Bridge 89%
77 St/Lexington 88%
96 St/Broadway 87%
51 St/Lexington 86%
74 St/Roosevelt 86%
Court St/Borough Hall 84%
59 St/Columbus Circle 83%
West 4 St 83%
Grand Central 83%
Union Square 83%
Times Square 81%
34 St/6 Ave 80%
Rockefeller Center 80%
59 St/Lexington 80%
Chambers Street/WTC 74%
42 St/6 & 7 Ave 62%
14 St/5 & 6 Ave 61%
5 Ave/53 St 55%
86 St/Lexington 50%
Average of 25 Most-Used Stations 82%
   
The worst chance was at 86th and Lexington Avenue station on the 4,5, and 6 lines, where half the phones were found not to work.

"We congratulate Verizon for reducing broken phones in the past year, but we urge them to do better in the coming year," said Farouk Abdallah, an organizer for the Straphangers Campaign. Abdallah noted that the current contract between Bell Atlantic and MTA New York City Transit requires that 95% of all coin telephones "shall be fully operative and in service at all times."

The campaign surveyed 658 coin telephones at the 25 most-used subway stations. The survey was conducted from October 20th though November 21st, 2000.

Telephones were deemed non-functioning if the handset was missing or unusable; there was no dial tone; surveyors were unable to connect to each of 411, 0 and 555-1212; the coin slot was blocked; coins deposited did not register; or the telephone would not return a coin if no call was connected.

A monthly audit conducted by a private company commissioned by the MTA found that 18.5% of telephones had "service-affecting troubles" during July and August 2000 combined.

The latest survey by MTA New York City Transit found that 91% of phones were in "working order" in the period from April to June 2000. But the transit agency survey tests only whether the handset is undamaged and if an 800 number works, not what happens when a quarter is used.

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_____________________________________________________________________ www.straphangers.org | www.nypirg.org